Wednesday , Mar , 16 , 2005 C.Y. Ellis

Pacers’ O’Neal could be sidelined for season

Indianapolis, IN (Sports Network) – Indiana Pacers All-Star forward Jermaine
O’Neal will be sidelined indefinitely and could possibly miss the rest of the
season as he continues to be plagued by a subluxated sprain of the right
shoulder.

O’Neal sustained the injury in a March 3 loss to the Nuggets when he was hit
on the right arm by Denver’s Francisco Elson while driving to the basket.

He was placed on the injured list the next day and has missed the last five
games. O’Neal is eligible to be activated for Wednesday’s game against Utah,
but head coach Rick Carlisle does not expect his star player to return to the
lineup anytime soon.

“He’s going to be out for awhile,” Carlisle said. “I have no idea when, or if,
he will return. His situation continues to be monitored and as the swelling
goes down we’ll be able to make a better determination as to exactly where he
is.”

There has not been any decision made on whether O’Neal will require surgery to
repair the shoulder, but if he does need an operation then his season would
likely be over.

The 26-year-old O’Neal, who made the All-Star Game as a reserve this season,
is the Pacers’ leading scorer, rebounder and shot-blocker. He is averaging
24.8 points to go along with 9.0 rebounds and 2.1 blocks per outing.

O’Neal has already missed more games this season (21) than in the previous
four years combined (20), due mostly to the 15 contests he missed while
serving a league suspension for his part in the mid-November brawl at Detroit.

The Pacers are 22-19 with O’Neal in the lineup and 9-12 without him this year.

“We’ve got to find a way to get to the playoffs, and that’s going to be a
challenge in itself,” Carlisle said. “We’ve got to go on the idea that he’s
not going to be here. That’s the way we have to approach it. We can’t be
hanging our hopes on his return because it’s going to be awhile if he comes
back at all. We’ve got to do it with the guys we have available.”

IND